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FEATURED AUSTRALIA NDIS REVIEW REPORT: The Moment of Change Has Come You Can’t Go Back. Here’s What We Know


AceNewsDesk – ‘Can’t go back’ to no NDIS: Disability advocates respond to landmark report on scheme’s future — as it happened


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.08: 2023: ABC Health & Disability News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

Silhouettes of children read and throw a ball on a peach-coloured background. Houses and upward trending arrows are also seen

The NDIS review says ‘the moment has come’ for change. Here’s what to expect

Bill Shorten talks through the NDIS review’s recommendations at the National Press Club.

It’s finally in.

The latest review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has had many participants and their families on edge.

And today NDIS Minister Bill Shorten provided more details about the review’s findings and what they mean for participants.

The review’s final report, made public on Thursday, has made 26 recommendations and detailed close to 140 “actions” it says need to happen to transform the NDIS over the next five years.

Read on to learn about the biggest takeaways.

Nothing is changing overnight

Many participants have been worried about the review, and what it could mean for the scheme that has transformed their lives and helped many people with disability access basic support for the first time.

So let’s get this out of the way first — change is not happening right away.

Mr Shorten told the National Press Club the government’s full response to the review will be released next year, and conversations with the disability community will continue over the coming months.

While there is a lot that remains unclear at the moment, it’s expected any reforms will happen gradually, over the next five years.

Whatever happens, disability advocates want to be at the heart of the review’s implementation and are clear the scheme needs to stay.

“We know what it was like to live without the NDIS,” said Nicole Lee, president of People with Disability Australia.

“We can’t go back to the way we lived before.”

Watch an interview: Advocate says investing in support outside of the NDIS will benefit everyone.

Moving away from access through diagnosis

The report has recommended a big shift in the way the NDIS is accessed.

Under the suggested changes, Australians would no longer have automatic access to the NDIS scheme based purely on their medical diagnosis.

Instead, access to the scheme would depend on how much a person’s disability affects their daily lives, what’s known as “functional impairment”.

“Access to the NDIS should be based first and foremost on significant functional impairment and need — and only secondly on medical diagnosis,” the report says.

“A focus on functional impairment will enable multiple disabilities to be considered — which when taken together, result in significant functional impairment.”

As part of this shift, the report recommends making the process of applying for the NDIS clearer and simpler, and clarifying the definitions of key eligibility criteria such as what’s deemed “reasonable and necessary” support.

This recommendation, along with others, hinges on others being followed through and there needs to be a rapid expansion in services outside the NDIS for it to work (we’ll talk about that later).

More support for children

Another big change flagged in the report is providing more support to families of children with developmental delays or disability, outside of the NDIS.

More children have entered the scheme than anticipated, the review’s interim report released in June said, which was partly due to a lack of support for those children outside the NDIS.The NDIS review had been running for more than a year.(ABC News: Emma Machan)

More than 150,000 NDIS participants – that’s roughly a quarter of all participants – are under nine.

Children have also been the fastest-growing category of NDIS participant. Data released in May revealed 11 per cent of all five- to seven-year-old boys were on the scheme.

The report has recommended better screening to pick up developmental concerns as early as possible, and introduce better early intervention for those who need help.

“Approximately 20 per cent of children experience learning difficulties, developmental concerns, developmental delay, or are found to have disability,” the report says.

“In other words, learning difficulties and disability are mainstream issues.

“We want children and their families to have every opportunity to lead ordinary lives, included in their local communities.”

New ‘foundational supports’

To fill in some of the gaps around the NDIS, the Commonwealth and states have agreed to set up “foundational supports” – services for those with less severe disabilities, delivered through the likes of health services, early childhood education and schools.

A broader ecosystem of support would mean that if someone did not meet NDIS criteria, they’d still be able to access some services, instead of missing out altogether.The report has recommended making NDIS planning an easier process for participants.(Shutterstock: UfaBizPhoto)

Examples of foundational supports could include help cleaning and cooking, personal assistance, early supports for children and teenagers and peer support.

It was confirmed after national cabinet on Wednesday, these supports would be phased in over time, with federal legislation to be introduced in the first half of 2024.

The funding of these new supports would be split 50-50 between the Commonwealth and states and territories, who would also have their costs capped by the feds.

“Governments have come to rely on the NDIS as the dominant, and in some cases only, source of supports for people with disability,” the report says.

“This has resulted in an unbalanced disability support system that relies too heavily on the NDIS at the expense of an inclusive, accessible and thriving broader disability support ecosystem of mainstream and foundational supports.”

All providers will need to be registered

All NDIS support providers should be regulated in the future, the report says.

This is a huge change: for context, last financial year there were 16,000 registered NDIS providers in the market but 154,000 unregistered providers getting work.

Participants can prefer using unregistered providers for a number of reasons, some want to continue working with practitioners or support workers who know their needs.From September: The NDIS review chief tells the ABC about the need for changes(Laura Tingle)none

However, the review has found not requiring providers to be regulated means some workers don’t have the skills and knowledge they need to deliver high-quality support.

Dr George Taleporos, chair of advocacy group Every Australian Counts, said the proposal betrayed a key value of the NDIS: allowing participants greater choice and control over their lives.

“This will impact on our rights to decide who comes into our homes and who provides our support,” he said.

People in regional and remote Australia, many of whom currently have little or no access to registered providers, stand to be impacted the most, he added.

However, the government has flagged making the registration process more accessible, to address concerns about people being cut off from services they’ve had for a long time.

It’ll also take place over several years, to allow providers time to register.

The states have been asked to step up

The report makes it clear that all levels of government need to pitch in to provide disability support services in the community.

“In trying to correct for the underfunded, inconsistent and unfair arrangements that existed prior to the NDIS, governments have come to rely on the NDIS as the dominant, and in some cases only, source of supports for people with disability — the oasis in the desert,” the report says.

NDIS funding has been a major source of contention between the states and Commonwealth over the last few weeks.

While the initial funding agreement was for the states and Commonwealth to split costs 50-50, the federal government’s share has ballooned to about two-thirds.

The feds say the states need to chip in more to fund the growing scheme. While the states want to see a robust NDIS, they’re worried about their own budgets.Ten years after scheme’s launch, the review’s chairs say “the moment has come to renew the promise of the NDIS”.(Pixabay: Klimkin)

Since the scheme’s launch, support outside the NDIS has dried up significantly – meaning if you’re not on the scheme, finding support can be tough.

The report also calls for federal, state and territory governments to collaborate on other parts of the reforms, including:

  • Share the cost of helping people with disability outside the scheme navigate other supports
  • Jointly invest in a “capacity building program” to help carers of children with developmental concerns and disability
  • Allocating more funding to psychosocial support outside of the NDIS, to help people with mental illness who are struggling to get help

Commonwealth and state and territory governments confirmed on Wednesday they had reached an agreement to set up and fund the new category of support, but details still need to be worked out. 

What else is in there?

The report also recommends some changes to how housing is funded for participants who need around-the-clock care, including:

  • Giving participants the flexibility to choose a living arrangement that works for them, and the ability to trial facilities before committing to them
  • Calling on all Australian governments to boost social housing stock that can accommodate people with disability

Another change the report calls for is improving the issue that attracted the most complaints during the review process: planning and access to the scheme.

As Mr Shorten told reporters:

“People say that dealing with the planning process is like a second full-time job and preparing for a planning meeting sometimes feels like they’re going to war. People are tired of having to prove every year that they’re still blind or in a wheelchair or have Down’s syndrome.”

To help NDIS participants navigate these changes, the report also recommends that government fund workers whose only job is doing just that.

These workers will be called “navigators” and they will also help people with disability find support outside of the NDIS.

The report also recommends taking steps to attract and retain more desperately-needed disability workers, as well as creating an independent pricing mechanism to ensure that participants aren’t overcharged for services.

Ten years after launch, the review’s chairs say “the moment has come to renew the promise of the NDIS”.

“Our recommendations, if implemented as a package, will secure the future sustainability of the NDIS as well as delivering better supports for people with disability and a better experience for those in the NDIS,” they wrote.

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and comment thank you

Ace Daily News

FEATURED REPORT: $20,000 Monkeys & How Demand For Lab Animals Is Driving Illegal Trade In Endangered Macaques


AceNewsDesk – A lucrative underground trade risks undermining research, creating new pandemics and pushing a recently abundant species to the brink


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.08: 2023: The Guardian Environment News By Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

Research published in the journal One Health reveals individual monkeys are being sold for between $20,000 and $24,000. Photograph: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals Media

In 2019, Jonah Sacha, a researcher at Oregon Health and Science University, received a delivery of 20 monkeys from Mauritius. As part of his research into stem-cell transplants as an HIV treatment, he performs tests on long-tailed macaques.

The captive-bred monkeys were legally imported using an approved vendor, and looked healthy. However, when Sacha tested them, one appeared to have latent tuberculosis (TB).

None of the monkeys could be used because Sacha needed disease-free animals to produce accurate research. “My feeling was one of utter despair; it set this project back by more than a year and a half,” he says.

The test also threw into question the source of the monkeys. The macaque could have contracted TB from a human while in captivity, or it could mean the monkey came from the wild – where TB is relatively common among macaque populations – and was then mis-sold as captive-bred.

“This is the heart of the matter: we don’t know,” says Sacha. “I’ve heard stories of people saying they received animals they thought were research-bred, then they get them, and they’re clearly not because they have found, for instance, little pellets from a shotgun in the animal. That’s a wild-caught animal.”

The incident sheds light on the murky world of importing monkeys for laboratory research. An international shortage of lab monkeys has driven up prices, incentivising a booming illicit trade. The problem risks undermining research, creating new pandemics, and fuelling wildlife trafficking. As the tradeexpands, a once-thriving species is now on the edge: in 2022, it was added to the IUCN list of endangered species. Some animal rights activists are calling to end the trade altogether.

An activist wearing a monkey mask protests against the trafficking of long-tailed macaques, the world’s most heavily traded primate species. Photograph: Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images

Long-tailed macaques are the most heavily traded primate species in the world, according to a paper published in September, and much of this is for laboratory research.

The US National Association for Biological Research says non-human primates remain a critical resource for research, with about 70,000 monkeys imported a year to study infectious diseases, the brain and the creation of new drugs. Difficulty getting monkeys is compromising important research, Sacha says. Before the pandemic he was paying between $2,000 (£1,600) and $5,000 for an animal. Now, it’s about $20,000. “For a couple of years during lockdown it was near impossible to get them,” he says.

He is not alone. Almost two-thirds of researchers struggled to find monkeys in 2021, according to a report from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which found that the supply of monkeys for research is at crisis point. According to an article in Science, the report is the “strongest government statement yet on the precarious state of monkey research”. A similar picture is coming from Europe, where a shortage of monkeys has resulted in some research being abandoned.

Long-tailed macaques (the monkey most commonly used in medical research) are protected under international trade law and special permits are required to import the animals into the US.

Laboratories need pathogen-free primates that are in good condition and so do not want monkeys that have been wild-caught. With prices so high, however, traffickers are incentivised to catch them in the wild and launder them in via established breeding colonies.

For decades, China was the largest supplier, but it banned the wild animal trade in 2020 in light of the Covid pandemic. Demand for monkeys increased significantly in the following years, but supply did not. Cambodia has since significantly increased exports to plug the gap and tap into this increasingly lucrative market.

“The price is driving the desire of producers,” says Anne-Lise Chaber, an illegal wildlife trade researcher at the University of Adelaide, in Australia. Chaber’s research, published earlier this year in the journal One Health, says individual monkeys are being sold for between $20,000 and $24,000. Globally, south-east Asia is a large international supplier of macaques, but their breeding and trade has been poorly regulated, which can lead to more wild aminals being caught than is sustainable.

“It’s unlikely Cambodia managed to increase their production in such a short timeframe, so we need to understand how they made it happen,” says Chaber.

In the past 30 years, the wild population of long-tailed macaques has fallen by 40%. Photograph: Luke Massey/

The country’s export numbers tripled from 10,000 monkeys in 2018 to 30,000 in 2019 and 2020. Researchers write in the paper that Cambodia “has historically been incapable of producing second-generation offspring macaques, therefore increasing their production capacity legally seems unlikely”.

In November 2022, Cambodia was hit by a smuggling scandal: eight people were charged with illegally importing wild-caught monkeys into the US, falsely labelled as captive-bred. The macaques were taken from national parks and other protected areas in Cambodia to breeding facilities, where they were provided with false export permits, officials alleged. More than 14,000 wild macaques were trapped in this way, the US Justice Department says.

In the past 30 years, the wild population of long-tailed macaques has fallen by 40%, with a further 50% decline predicted over the coming three generations. One reason for the decline is over-utilisation for scientific purposes.

Macaques are a frequent sight in cities in south-east Asia, though researchers say this creates a misconception there is a large population of them.Photograph: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

Nadja Ramseyer Krog, director of the Long-Tailed Macaque Project, says there is a misconception that macaques are populous because so many of them now live in cities in south-east Asia: “

It’s not a very popular animal, in some areas. They do things like run into hotels, open the fridge and grab a Coca-Cola. If you go to a popular tourist destination you could maybe see 100 monkeys, but the forest behind it could be empty.”

Krog hopes in time we can stop using primates in research. “But of course we need to find alternatives,” she says. “I don’t think any scientists want to use wild-caught animals, or be part of extinguishing a wild animal.”

When monkeys can be taken from the wild or farmed, it increases contact between humans and wildlife, increasing the risk of pathogen transmission.

“Macaque breeders or sellers are housing thousands of animals in tiny crates in close proximity, creating the right conditions for the next pandemic: it is a pathogen bomb,” Chaber says. “The irony is that this production of macaques is mainly aimed at providing animals for biomedical research to create vaccines for current outbreaks.”

Animal rights campaigners want the US government to end the “cruel trade”, saying it poses a significant threat to public health. The National Academies report says investing in non-animal “organ on a chip” technology could reduce overall demand.

It also recommended that the US expand its domestic breeding facilities – which it can then regulate. Sacha says: “We shouldn’t be reliant on external countries for these animals that are really critical to our ability to test new therapeutics and vaccines and medicines.”

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and comment thank you

Ace Breaking News

BREAKING ITALY BUSINESS REPORT: Italy Tells Beijing It Is Leaving China’s Global Belt & Road Initiative

a closeup of Meloni's face as she stands in front of EU flags
Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has long been opposed to China’s global Belt and Road initiative.(Reuters: Yves Herman)none

AceBreakingNews – Italy has withdrawn from China’s vast Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) more than four years after becoming the only G7 nation to sign up, government sources said.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.08: 2023: Wires/ABC News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

a closeup of Meloni's face as she stands in front of EU flags
Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has long been opposed to China’s global Belt and Road initiative.(Reuters: Yves Herman)none

Italy in 2019 became the first and — so far — only major Western nation to join the trade and investment programme, ignoring warnings from the United States that it might let China take control of sensitive technologies and vital infrastructure.

However, when Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took office last year, she said she wanted to withdraw from the deal, which was championed by President Xi Jinping, saying it had brought no significant gains to Italy.

The 2019 accord expires in March 2024 and an Italian government source has told several media outlets that Rome had sent Beijing a letter “in recent days” informing China that it would not be renewing the pact.

There was no immediate comment from China.

“We have every intention of maintaining excellent relations with China even if we are no longer part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” a second government source said.

“Other G7 nations have closer relations with China than we do, despite the fact they were never in [the BRI],” he added.

Italy will assume the presidency of the G7 in 2024.

A close up of Xi Jinping wearing a suit looking over his shoulder in front of a flag.
The BRI is a major part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s push for China to play a larger role in global affairs.(Reuters: Florence Lo)

More than 100 countries have signed agreements with China to cooperate on BRI infrastructure and building projects since the scheme was launched in 2013.

The initiative involves Chinese companies building transportation, energy and other infrastructure overseas, funded by Chinese development bank loans.

It has built power plants, roads, railroads and ports around the world and deepened China’s relations with Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Mideast…………However, not all has gone to plan.

In 2021, the Australian government ended Victoria’s BRI agreements with China.

Reuters has also reported that $17.4 billion in projects in Malaysia were cancelled between 2013-2021, with nearly $2.25 billion scrapped in Kazakhstan and more than $1.5 billion in Bolivia.

A map showing some countries which have backed China's Belt and Road Initiative.
The BRI invloves road, rail and maritime trade networks.(ABC News: Jarrod Fankhauser)

Italy seeks to maintain strategic ties with Beijing

In 2013, then-Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte hoped for a trade bonanza when he signed up in 2019, but Chinese firms seemed to be the main beneficiaries.

Italian exports to China totalled 16.4 billion euros ($26.9 billion) last year from 13 billion euros in 2019.

By contrast, Chinese exports to Italy rose to 57.5 billion euros from 31.7 billion euros over the same period, according to Italian data.

Italy’s main eurozone trading partners France and Germany exported significantly more to China last year, despite not being part of the BRI, which is modelled on the old Silk Road that linked China to the West.

Looking to maintain strategic ties, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani visited Beijing in September and President Sergio Mattarella is due to visit China at some stage next year.

Ms Meloni herself has said she wants to go to Beijing, but no date has been fixed.

Without directly confirming the news, Mr Tajani said on Wednesday that Italy was seeking to “relaunch the strategic partnership” with Beijing.

He told parliament that during his September trip to China, he made clear Rome wanted to “promote better access to our products regardless of our participation” in the BRI.

Despite being part of the BRI, successive governments in Rome signalled their doubts about the pact by vetoing some proposed takeovers or limiting the sway of Chinese companies over their Italian counterparts.

In June, Ms Meloni’s cabinet curbed the influence of Chinese shareholder Sinochem on Italian tyre maker Pirelli, using “golden power” rules designed to protect strategic assets.

Ms Meloni, who heads a conservative coalition, has been keen to burnish her credentials as a committed pro-NATO leader and a government source said that she had assured US President Joe Biden earlier this year that Italy would quit the BRI.

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